Focus

Trump’s White House event in focus over Covid spread

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Media captionSenator Mike Lee, who later tested positive for Covid-19, seen hugging other attendees

US President Donald Trump’s tweet on Friday confirming that he and his wife had tested positive for coronavirus shocked the world.

With Mr Trump now in hospital, there are growing questions about how the pair were exposed to the virus.

A crowded Rose Garden event is coming under intense focus – the ceremony on 26 September where Mr Trump formally announced his nomination of the conservative Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. The World Health Organization says it commonly takes around five to six days for symptoms to start after contracting the virus.

Footage from the scene showed few attendees wearing masks. The seating was not set two metres (six feet) apart, while some bumped fists, shook hands or even hugged one another in greeting.

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Image caption

Attorney General Bill Barr greets guests including Chris Christie (wearing the pink tie)

Eight people who attended are now confirmed to have the virus – although it is unclear exactly where and when they caught it. Aside from the president and the First Lady:

  • New Jersey ex-Governor Chris Christie announced he had the virus on Saturday
  • Kellyanne Conway, who resigned as Mr Trump’s senior adviser in August, confirmed on Friday she had tested positive
  • Mike Lee, a Republican senator from Utah, confirmed his positive test on Twitter, as did North Carolina senator Thom Tillis
  • The University of Notre Dame confirmed their president, Reverend John Jenkins, also has Covid-19
  • An unnamed journalist who attended the event also has the virus, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association

Mr and Mrs Trump tested positive after the president’s communications director, Hope Hicks, contracted the virus.

Democrats focus on cutting off path to victory for Trump if presidency is thrown to House to decide

And, if successful in elevating Scholten, Biden’s trip could serve as a backstop for his own presidential bid.

A Scholten victory would likely give Democrats eight of Michigan’s 14 seats in the House, helping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s newly stated goal of blocking Trump from a last-gasp effort to remain in the White House if he does not win the November election.

It’s all very complicated, but there is a remote chance that neither Trump nor Biden will be a clear winner in the electoral college.

In such a scenario, deciding the presidency falls to the House of Representatives, but in a rare twist mandated by the 12th Amendment after the contested 1800 election, each state’s delegation counts as one vote. So Montana and Alaska, with just one at-large representative, count the same as California with its 53 members and Texas with 36 members.

The victor must receive at least 26 votes, a clear majority. Trump, in recent days, has proclaimed he is ready to fight in courts if he should lose the race, and that he is ready to force the matter all the way to the House.

“I don’t want to go back to Congress, even though we have an advantage if we go back to Congress,” Trump told supporters at a rally Saturday in central Pennsylvania. “Does everyone understand that? I think it’s 26 to 22 or something.”

That is true — for now. Republicans have the delegation majority in 26 states, Democrats have 22 states, while Pennsylvania and Michigan are essentially tied. But, as Pelosi (D-Calif.) noted in a memo to her caucus Sunday, the new Congress sworn in the first week of January would cast those votes early next year ahead of the scheduled Jan. 20 inauguration.

With an already huge cash advantage over House

House Reports Push for More Focus on China by Intelligence Agencies

WASHINGTON — The United States could fall behind in its global competition with China without additional resources to develop better intelligence on the Chinese government, and spy agencies must focus more on the challenge of pandemics and trade, according to a report by the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released Wednesday.

The warnings in the report, the result of a classified two-year study of American intelligence agencies’ work, were similar to the conclusions of a Republican study on China also released Wednesday. While that report, by a task force of House Republican lawmakers, has a wider focus, it too called for a more aggressive stance toward China and better defenses against Chinese theft of intellectual property and efforts to influence American politics.

While there is a bipartisan consensus on China, the failure of Democrats and Republicans in the House to work together on the issue was another sign of the partisan dysfunction that has gripped Washington and that could be a hurdle to revising American policy on China despite the agreement.

The House Intelligence Committee report, primarily the work of the panel’s Democratic majority, calls for a “significant realignment of resources” to help the United States compete with China. The report calls for a broader look at national security threats, including climate change and pandemics, while trying to collect intelligence on China.

“Absent a significant and immediate reprioritization and realignment of resources, we will be ill prepared to compete with China — diplomatically, economically and militarily — on the global stage for decades to come,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the committee. “The good news is that we still have time to adapt.”

China has been a growing challenge for the United States. President Trump has said without evidence that the coronavirus